It took me four months before I opened the letter from Tami. It was after having a disagreement with Rosa over the time she spends with me. I was angry and felt I had nothing to lose so, see what was in the letter. I was sure Tami was had revealed her love for me in this letter. I felt like my relationship with Rosa was not heading in the direction I really needed it to go.
I ripped open the envelope while sitting in the car that night after leaving Rosa’s apartment.
The letter started:
“I am sorry I overstepped my bounds with you. It was loneliness after my break-up with my boyfriend. Another girl did the same thing to me that I was trying to do to your girlfriend. I took things too far and it was inappropriate. I hope you can forgive me as I love being your friend.
She went on to explain how she really did not mean anything and that I was someone she trusts. She vowed she would not overstep her bounds again.”
It was not what I expected. I also felt bad after reading it. I had been avoiding her and this is all she wanted to say.
My anger subsided with a call from Rosa that night. She actually mentioned the word marriage for the first time in months. Our relationship is now deeper that it was before.
The next day I went to work earlier so I could see Tami. I would wait in the break room with the time clock so I would see her just before she leaves.
“Hello”, she replied.
The sparkle in her eyes told me that she knew I read the letter. She was not looking at me the way she did months ago. No “googly” eyes. She and her boyfriend were back together. He realized he missed her and threw himself at her mercy.
From here the friendship continued like it was never broken.
The lease on the apartment was up and we going to move to Hollywood. Sue and I were excited about the move. We needed a new start and wanted to forget the memories of this apartment. She was also very close to graduation. She was trying get a job with a company that would sponsor her for her green card. She would be graduating with a perfect GPA and getting every award possible at the school. I was happy for her and was praying that she would get a job.
The move to the new apartment went smoothly. Most people hate moving but I love it. It is the perfect opportunity to clean and throw out old stuff. The place was bigger. We were no longer sharing a bathroom. The neighborhood was much nicer. It was a 3-story building that was shaped like a rectangle from above. There was a pool in the middle. It was painted aqua blue.
Most of our neighbors were a mix of Spanish and older retired couples. There was a small pool in the middle that looked like it was hardly used. I had been to the beach a few times since my “return” from Nassau. Rosa loved it and her apparent was close to one of the popular beaches. We would have romantic walks and picnics on the beach. She would get in the water. I would put my foot in but I never got in and swam. I think it was the memories of the night of my “return” lingered. This pool was very inviting and I vowed I would start swimming. Sue was on the swim team at our high school, Campion. She had a few medals from the Jamaica Swim champs.
Things could get tricky if Sue does not get a job after her MBA. She may have to go back home to Jamaica.
Rosa and I were getting closer. I also knew she and Sue were talking more. I think part of Sue’s plan as she realized there are only a few options for her to stay in the USA after graduation.
Option 1 was getting a company to sponsor her. This was not looking like a very good option. She also did not like the idea of being tied to a company while she waited for her green card. From what she heard they could treat you like a “dawg” but you could not quit because of the contract they have you sign as an agreement for them filing for your green card. You have to stay with them for a period of time even after getting the green card. Some companies even require you to pay back the legal fees if you breach the contract and leave.
Her second option was to go back to school for a doctorate or a second Masters. This option was attractive to her as she would not have to work and my parents would continue to support her. Applying to the doctorate program may take some time so the second Masters would be her best bet with the time she had left. It would give her time to figure out what to do?
Her third option was to get married to a US citizen. This option was not looking good as she was still doing the long distance relationship with Ritchie even though I think they were both giving each other “bun”. She has been secretly meeting and talking to someone on the phone. I heard the voice and it sounded Jamaican. Does not sound like anything serious leading to marriage. I think she has considered finding a friend to marry and pay them. She mentioned to me that one of her friends at school successfully did that with a white American guy she met on campus. He was going away to study in Latin America as a part of the degree program he was in. That made this marriage perfect. He did ask for sex but got none. She got her work permit, temporary status and eventually her green card. He only had to show up a few times. Sue even mentioned we could marry one of our distance cousins that live in the US. How would they know we are cousins if they don’t go back to Jamaica and check the records?
Her fourth option is me getting married and filing for her while she tried to “stretch her education”. This is the option I think she has been putting her effort in as she and Rosa have been getting closer again. I think she was going to push the marriage thing again but this time in my favor.
Her graduation was a few weeks away and my parents were planning to come. Sue was excited about everything but one night things changed.
The door bell rang. Sue was in the shower so I had to get the door. I looked through the peep hole. It was dark but there was a long haired dreadlocked man at the door. He was in a black shirt that had Bob Marley and jeans.
Who is it”, I asked.
“A friend of Sue” he replied in a muffled but somewhat recognizable voice. I opened the door only because I knew the voice.
“Yow whappen, my yout” the man grabbed my arm to shake it “black American” style.
I was startled. As I looked closer behind the beard and dreadlocks I could see it was Ritchie. Quickly pulled him in the apartment and closed the door.
“Yow, lang time.” I replied. I was in shock. I was about to ask what he was doing back in town when Sue came out the bathroom ran in his arms. They were “tongue tied”. After about 2 minutes of them hugging kissing they realized I was still there.
“When did you come into Miami,” Sue asked.
“I drove in today”
“So that is why you said you would not call me yesterday”
“Yeah, mi wan fi surprise yuh fi you graduation”
It was becoming clearer. He was here to celebrate her getting her masters.
Sue gave me a glance. She knew I did not like this situation. I glared back at her.
“Where are you staying” she asked. She knew I wanted to ask that from my look.
“Mi a stay wid a bredin inna Lauderhill,” he replied.
I was a little relieved but not totally. Even though he would not be staying here he still would around us. This would make us vulnerable to a “raid”.
“Can you excuse Ritchie and I” she asked.
I was staring at her
“Please!!!” she emphasized.
“Ritchie we can catch up later,” I responded.
I went to my room to get ready. Rosa and I were going to a movie that night. I thought about canceling but she had been busy with end of semester classes and this was one of the few times I would see her. I did not want to leave Ritchie and Sue alone. I know they were adults and this was a new apartment but someone could still be watching.
My fear was relieved with a knock on my room door from Sue.
“Ritchie and I are going out to dinner”
I pulled her in my room.
“Sue, I don’t like this. How long is he going to stay here, we can’t risk this”
“He told me everything is okay now and that his record is clear”
She had made up her mind. She was going to go with him. I tried to stay in the apartment as long as I could to see when they would leave. It was getting late and I had to go get Rosa. I figure they planned it that way so they could “catch up” while I was out of the apartment.
I was distracted on the way over to pick up Rosa. My mind was racing with questions. Did Sue know he was coming? How did he get our address? Is he going to stay until her graduation? Was he going to attend her graduation ceremony as her boyfriend? My mother and father would have a heart attack. My biggest concern was would there be another “raid” with the police looking for Ritchie.
I was feeling a little guilty about not wanting him around because I was really happy to see him. We did so much together. We were “bench and batty”. He was there for me during some hard times. He was the one who helped me get back from the Bahamas. That was the biggest guilt trip for me. He never played that card on me before but I know I owed him a lot.
We really had some good times. I also knew he made Sue happy.
My mind kept going back to the raid and the drug charges again his father and prison.
As I pulled into the parking lot to pick up Rosa I vowed I would not tell her what was going on as she was already stressed from exams, etc.
She was waiting for me downstairs. She got in the car and greeted me with a kiss.
“So how do you feel about Ritchie coming back?”
“How did you find out?” I already knew the answer. It had to be Sue. I let her explain.
“I called to see if you left and Ritchie picked up the phone”
I was angry. Why was he picking up the phone?
“So how do you feel about it? Sue asked me and she sounded excited”
“I am concerned”, I was abrupt. I had to stop talking about it. Rosa picked up on my mood. She reached over and caressed my arm as we drove. She did not mention anything else about it for the rest of the night.
We watched the movie “Waiting to Exhale”. I was distracted.
On the way back home Rosa wanted to talk about the movie.
“Do you think she should have burned his car?”
“No, that was too extreme”, I replied.
“I think men can get woman so angry when they cheat that they do things no one expect”
The conversation perked my interest as Rosa had a boyfriend that cheated on her in the past.
“Did you feel like you would have done that to your boyfriend that cheated?”
“I did feel a lot of anger but I was young” she was trying to soften her stance.
I think that experience is what made her very jealous in relationships.
There was no late night at Rosa. She has been studying late at night. It was a good thing as I wanted to get home to talk to Sue.
I rushed home.
Sue was up and on the phone. I picked up the line to force her off.
‘I am on the phone’ she shouted.
I did it again 2 minutes later.
“I am still on the phone”
She got the hint and finally got off the phone.
I walked in her room to talk. I think she was expecting me.
She explained that Ritchie would not be sleeping over. He would be staying until her graduation. He would not sit with the family and would be in the background watching. They would go out but be very careful. She was saying everything I wanted to hear. She was trying to address my immediate concerns. She explained that Ritchie’s father recently turned an informant which has reduced his sentence. She said Ritchie was going to get protection from the government once it became official.
I was still concerned but there was nothing I could do to stop them from seeing each other. As long as he was not staying in the house I was fine.
For the next few days the pattern was he would pick her up and leave. He and I spoke during that time and reminisced about the past. He barely talked about his life in Atlanta.
Sue was on “cloud 9” with Ritchie here. She was giddy with happiness. I loved seeing her like this even with my concerns about where the relationship with Ritchie was going.
Something surprising happened at work. Ritchie’s ex-girlfriend, Mariella, walked into BJ’s to pick up a few items.
“Hey, how are you” She hugged and kissed me on the cheek.
I had not seen her in a few years. In fact a few months before Ritchie went to Atlanta she stopped shopping at BJ’s. I would still see her mother come in but never her. She was alone. Her son was not with her.
“It’s been a long time”
‘Yes, I moved to Atlanta a while back. Didn’t Ritchie tell you? He said he saw you last week’
I was going to play it off. I did not want her to know I was surprised.
“Oooh yeah, he did mention it. I tried to change the topic “So I guess there is no BJ’s in Atlanta so you come here” I was smiling.
‘No, I am shopping for my mother, she is not doing well”
“Sorry to hear”
‘Your son must be big now”
“Yes, he and Ritchie have so much fun together. Ritchie is so great with him’ She did not say he was the father but it seemed from her statement that he was.
I was trying to keep a straight face. I now had enough information to put ‘two and two” together. I did not want to be abrupt
“How do you like it there?”
“I love it”
We talked a little more and then she went off shopping.
Then I took a deep breath. I was startled. Ritchie had been lying this whole time. The child is his son. It was obvious that the reason he chose Atlanta is because Mariella lived there with his son. It was obvious that she drove with him down from Atlanta. This is why he was not trying to stay with us. This explained the weird way he and Sue communicated. I wondered what to do with that information.
Did Sue know what was going on? I suspect she had a few flings during the time he was away. I wondered what to do with the information I just learned.
I could not go to Rosa or Tami. I needed some time to think this out because Sue’s graduation was close.
Things were going to get stickler. I came home one evening to find Sidney, my old classmate, at the door. He had a big smile on his face. How did he find us? I would later find out.
“Can I come in. I wanted to talk with you?”
I let him in.
We chit-chatted a little and then he made a statement.
“I left my wife and got a divorce’, he declared.
“Ohhhh…I am so sorry to hear”, I was not really surprised. He was a playboy and probably had a lady on the side. His wife may have found out and asked for a divorce. I was positive he was turning it around and saying he left her when it was really she who left him.
There was a moment of silence. I was expecting him to say more. Why was he here? Why did he feel the need to tell me about his marital problems? I was waiting on the punch line that would make him look in a good light. What was he here to show off about?
He looked at me a little surprised like I was missing something.
“I did it so I could be with Sue”, I was shocked.
He continued “It is obvious you did not know we were seeing each other. She was suppose to tell you last week before I came for her graduation”
We both went silent.
I had nothing to say.
The keys to the door started to open.
Sidney got up and approached the door. He knew it was Sue.
As she pushed the door open and in a quick movement Sidney hugged her and tried to kiss her. She was turning pale and started to pull away. Someone was behind her.
‘A who dis?’ a voice behind Sue shouted out.
It was Ritchie.
“Just a friend” she replied and quickly ran to her room and closed the door.
Sidney stood there looking like a man who lost his dog and Ritchie was in the door way looking like a man who was about to bite like a dog. They were both frozen and staring at each other. You could cut the tension with a knife.
I was sitting on the coach feeling I was watching a TV soap opera. I swore they were going to fight. Sidney was a little taller than Ritchie but not bigger. I would put my bet on Ritchie winning any fight.
“A who dis ###*!!!!! Bwoy?” Ritchie was looking at me. His eyes were getting bigger and the veins in his head were showing.
That moment was broken by Sue crying. Ritchie walked pass Sidney gave him a slight shoulder bump and opened Sue’s room door and went in. Sidney looked like he was going to pee in his pants when Ritchie bumped him. I actually think he did as he rushed for the door and walked out the apartment.
I wanted to get away but was frozen on the coach.
I could hear Sue and Ritchie talking. There was no screaming.
The door opened and Ritchie left. It would be the last time I would ever see him.
Sue opened her room door came out and sat beside me on the couch. She was crying uncontrollable. It was worst than the last time Ritchie left. I just hugged her and tried to console her. I had no words. This whole situation was ironic. Ritchie was cheating on her and she was cheating on him. Sidney was cheating on his wife and left her for Sue who did not want him.
Sue’s graduation day was becoming her worst nightmare. I was officially a part of her nightmare.
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